4 SETS FOR BRONZE
LYNX CLOSE WELL, TAKE OUT CADETS TO FINISH 3RD IN NCC
WEBSTER CITY — One of the premier hitters in the North Central Conference, Iowa Falls-Alden’s Jenny Wibholm is on pace to become the Cadets’ all-time leader in kills before the season ends.
She’s good. No, she’s great.
And Webster City junior Alayna Finucan was even greater last night.
In what became a one-on-one battle at times — hitter against libero — inside the WCHS gymnasium, Finucan one-upped her rival and led the Lynx to a 3-1 victory over Iowa Falls-Alden.
The 25-21, 20-25, 25-19, 25-18 victory gave WCHS (12-12, 5-2 NCC) third-place outright in the league behind second-ranked (Class 2A) Clarion-Goldfield-Dows and 11th-ranked (3A) Humboldt. The Cowgirls swept Humboldt in three sets last night to claim their second straight NCC championship.
WCHS has come a long way from its conference opener — a lightning-fast 3-0 loss to CGD on Sept. 3.
“This has been a team that’s been really fun to coach because it’s a team that has grown continually throughout the season,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “We can trust each other and that’s what has allowed them to succeed.”
It helps to have a leader with Finucan’s talent. She threw her body all over the court to collect 35 digs, as she consistently frustrated Wibholm and the Cadets. Wibholm still finished with a match-high 20 kills, but she was never able to take over.
“Alayna completely controlled them and frustrated them at different times,” Howard said. “You see it from her night in and night out, but the thing I saw (last night) was her ability to be the eyes for the hitters. She saw their defense really well and was very vocal with them.”
WCHS senior outside hitter Faith Anderson nearly matched Wibholm with 19 kills, 13 of them coming in the opening and final sets. Sierra Rattenborg blasted 11 more, and Reese Casey came off the bench to smack eight, including five in the third set that tipped the match in the Lynx favor.
“Faith has a lot of power behind her swing and she’s very good at placing the ball where it needs to go,” Howard said. “And I thought both Reese and Lexi (Nichols, who had five kills) were the big game changers for us. They allowed us to be effective all across the net. We knew (the Cadets) were going to set the outside every time, but they didn’t have any idea where the ball was going on our side.”
The ability to close out sets was paramount for WCHS. A 7-0 run late in Set 1 sent them to the early lead, and a 9-2 closing run in the third put them ahead 2-1. And right on cue, they finished off the fourth with an 11-1 spurt after IF-A had built a 17-14 advantage.
“We did a good job of starting sets and closing sets,” Howard said. “Seeing the growth in the girls mentally and physically on the court is huge, especially going into this part of the season.”
Alley Odland piled up 19 digs, and Kelly Stoakes had 15 more for WCHS. Joslin Gourley (30 assists) and Jenna Miller (15) combined for 45 assists, and Finucan and Gourley both dropped in a pair of service aces.
WCHS will close out the regular season at the Winterset Invite on Saturday. The Lynx will then set their sights on the postseason and a Class 4A Region 5 quarterfinal match against Boone, in Boone, on Tuesday.
Webster City 3, IF-Alden 1
Thursday at Webster City
Attacks — Faith Anderson 32-43, 19 kills; Sierra Rattenborg 23-31, 11 kills; Reese Casey 18-21, 8 kills; Livia Kasch 14-21, 7 kills; Lexi Nichols 13-13, 5 kills; Joslin Gourley 5-10, 2 kills; Alayna Finucan 1-1, 1 kill.
Blocks — Rattenborg 2, Casey 2, Nichols 2, Anderson 2, Gourley 1.
Digs — Finucan 35, Alley Odland 19, Kelly Stoakes 15, Li. Kasch 6, Jenna Miller 4, Casey 4, Anderson 3, Rattenborg 2, Gourley 2.
Assists — Gourley 30, Miller 15, Finucan 2.
Serving — Finucan 17-17, 2 aces; Gourley 12-14, 2 aces; Miller 13-13, 1 ace; Odland 10-11, 1 ace; Stoakes 25-25; Rattenborg 5-6.